Wizards

Wizards

Bradley Beal isn't going to waver, nor should he, and he hasn't for the last year. He’s a max player. Though the Wizards have been given pause with his extensive injury history, they're expecting to pay him as such and that's unlikely to change when free agency opens July 1.

In talking to multiple persons with knowledge of the situation as recent as Wednesday afternoon, the Wizards remain determined to keep their core intact which means Beal stays put with John Wall, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat, Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter.

They didn’t reach terms with Beal on an extension (four years maximum) before the 2015-16 season began and was hoping he'd finally make it through a full season in his fourth year but that didn't happen. Now that he’d get a new contract, not an extension of his rookie scale deal, Beal is eligible for more years (five).

And despite the repeated stress reactions – not fractures but dark spots on the bone that are precursors to a fracture – in his lower right leg, Beal hasn’t required surgery which is a major plus. The team also believes it has gotten a handle on how to manage him better to prevent a recurrence

The Wizards will enter free agency with a cap hold of $14.5 million on Beal’s salary slot unless they were to renounce his rights and make him unrestricted. There is zero chance of that happening.

 

Instead, with the salary cap rising from $70 million for 2015-16 to approximately $92 million because of the league’s new TV contracts, the Wizards will have more room to re-sign Beal. The luxury tax level will be around $111 million and after the Wizards rework their roster this summer they can come to terms with Beal and exceed the cap because they own his Bird rights.

The cap hold represents significantly less than what Beal is expected to command in the open market, even after a disappointing season despite career-highs of 17.4 points and 45% shooting. When the math is complete, he'll be north of $20 million per.

With so much money flooding the market, the best of the free-agent class at shooting guard is extremely thin:

  • DeMar DeRozan (Raptors) has an early-termination option that he’s expected to exercise to renegotiate for more money which is the prudent thing to do and there's a good chance he stays put. Good scorer (23.5 points) because he gets to the line a lot more than Beal, but he's a high-volume shooter, shoots 28.3% from three for his career and in the postseason he’s hit or miss. For context, John Wall is about 4% better from long range.

  • Dwyane Wade (Heat) is expected to remain with the Miami Heat for a 14th season. Not really available. Plus he's 34.

  • Kent Bazemore (Hawks) is coming off his first year as a starter and produces less (11.6 points) than Beal and isn’t as good of a three-point shooter (35.7%).

  • Evan Turner (Celtics) hasn’t lived up to his No. 2 draft status but showed signs under Brad Stevens, who got more quality production out of the guard/forward than anyone but he was still a reserve and isn't a long-distance shooter (24% from three) to spread the floor. A good backup on a good team.

  • Jamal Crawford (Clippers) is the Sixth Man of the Year because he can score (14.2 points) but he’s not a better shooter than Beal (34% from three), doesn’t have nearly the defensive capability and is 36.

  • Courtney Lee (Hornets) is a solid two-way player but has never averaged more than 12.5 points. He shoots in the high 30s from three but he’s a great pickup to backup Beal.  

  • Gerald Henderson (Blazers) can score though he was a backup last season (8.7 points) and shoots 32% from three for his career. Like Lee, a great backup for Beal. Wouldn’t start over him.

  • Eric Gordon (Pelicans) was a 20-point scorer early in his career and a very good three-point shooter for his career (38.3%) but multiple injuries and surgeries have ruined his momentum as he has missed at least 20 games in six of his last seven NBA seasons.